Board votes to deny liquor license request
Whitehall Township commissioners reaffirmed their denial May 13 of the request for a liquor license at the Sheetz in Whitehall.
After hearing residents from a 55-and-up residential community located behind Sheetz who oppose the transfer, the board voted to approve a resolution confirming the denial of the request.
Sheetz is appealing the township’s decision in Lehigh County court.
The gas station and convenience store at 5001 MacArthur Road had asked for approval of a liquor license transfer from Homeslate Sports Bar & Grill, Slatington, at the township’s April board meeting. The commissioners voted 5-1 to deny the request.
At a previous meeting, Ellen Freeman, a lawyer for Sheetz, told the board the local Sheetz planned to add seating for up to 30 patrons near the entrance, which is required by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to get a liquor license.
Resident Ed Patterson said even though the liquor license transfer had been denied, construction is currently underway at the Sheetz.
Sheetz District Manager Jeremiah Hoffman affirmed the location was in the middle of a renovation that includes an eating area.
Residents also complained about excessive noise in the Sheetz parking lot.
“My TV is on, and I can’t hear it because of the vehicles,” Ginger Bachman said.
Michael Kremp said from 9 p.m. to as late as 2 a.m., vehicles in the parking lot are revving engines.
“When they backfire, it sounds like a gunshot,” he said.
Several residents thought they couldn’t call police about loitering or noise at Sheetz because it is private property and the property owner would have to call police.
Township Attorney Sarah Murray said the law is “not clear as long as it is on private property.”
However, Commissioner Joseph Marx Jr. noted the township passed a new noise ordinance in April.
“Now, we have an enforcement tool,” he said.
Township Police Chief Michael Marks said if residents hear “loud and obnoxious” noise, they should call police on the nonemergency number, 610-437-3042.
Commissioners and residents also were concerned about discrepancies in what they were told about proposed beer sales at Sheetz.
Freeman said at a prior meeting that no alcohol consumption would be allowed on the premises; however, Hoffman said Monday that Sheetz would allow two beers per person to be consumed on the property.
He said they didn’t want to encourage drinking on site, but the PLCB requires that it be available.
“We wouldn’t allow drinking in the parking lot,” he said. “If we witnessed it, we would contact police immediately.”
Store manager Matthew Fenstermacher said it is Sheetz’ policy “that there will be no loitering in the parking lot after 10 p.m.”
In other business, the board unanimously approved a liquor license transfer from Susie’s Shady Nook, Slatington, to J&C Crab Juicy Seafood, after hearing from David Berger, an attorney representing the chain.
The family restaurant that has locations in Florida and Massachusetts hopes to open in Whitehall Square shopping center at 2180 MacArthur Road, next to CiCi’s Pizza, in August.
Berger said the restaurant would only serve premium and craft beer and would have a dining area for up to 120 patrons. There would be no take-out beer.
The board also welcomed new commissioner Ann Freyman, who will fill out the unfinished term of Jeffrey Dutt, who resigned in March because he and his wife were moving to Emmaus.
Freyman, who was sworn in at the meeting, has served on the planning commission and was deputy emergency management coordinator for the township for the past eight years.
“I love living here, and I’m glad to be a part of the board,” she said. “I want to be able to support the board in their decisions.”